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Puberty for girls

3-minute read

Puberty is the time when you grow from a girl to a young woman. Everyone goes through it. It can be exciting, but some people find it tough. Here are some of the changes to expect.

Note: We also have an article about puberty for boys.

How does my body change?

Your body changes during puberty — you are going from being a child to how you will be when you are an adult.

During puberty, a lot of different things happen.

  • You’ll get taller, and this might happen quite quickly.
  • Your nipples may look swollen and feel tender. This is the start of your breasts growing, and usually happens between the ages of 8 to 13.
  • Your hips, bottom and thighs will probably get bigger and rounder.
  • Inside your body, your ovaries and womb will get larger.
  • Pubic hair will start growing around your vagina and under your arms. You may also find you have more hair on your legs. The hair will start off fine and straight, but become thicker and curlier.
  • Your clitoris will get larger.
  • Your first period, or menstruation, will probably arrive between the ages of 9 and 15 years. Every girl is different.
  • Your vagina will start to produce a small amount of clear or cream-coloured fluid (called vaginal discharge). This fluid, which keeps the walls of the vagina clean, is normal and healthy.
  • You may get oily skin and hair, and spots (acne) may develop on your face and body.
  • You may also find you sweat more.
  • You may feel more emotional than usual and find you are sensitive to what others say.

These changes usually take place over about 4 years. By the time you are 16, you will have done most of your physical developing.

What if my period hasn’t started?

It is normal for a girl to start her periods between the ages of 9 and 15, although some start earlier. If you are 16 and still haven’t started your periods, see your doctor.

Your doctor will talk to you. They may also want to examine you and take some blood tests to check your hormone levels. On rare occasions, you may be asked to have more tests, like a scan.

You may feel more comfortable discussing these things with a female doctor.

The most common reasons for girls starting their periods later than usual are:

  • genetic predisposition — in some families, girls start their periods late
  • doing way too much exercise
  • being underweight
  • stress
  • some medicines
  • severe long-term illness
  • hormonal problems

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your puberty for girls, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2019

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